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When I Heard at the Close of the Day by Walt Whitman


"When I Heard at the Close of the Day" is a poem written by Walt Whitman. This poem is about Whitman's happiness. He states that even though he was talked about in great words in the capitol and his plans were accomplished, he couldn't be happy. However, when he woke up in great health, saw a full moon and the sunrise, went to the beach, and heard his lover was coming, he became happy. He then became even happier when his friend was there and they spent the night together. Oh, you might also notice the last line where he states "his arm lay lightly around my breast". Indeed, Whitman was bi-sexual.

This poem is written as one stanza but it consists of thirteen lines.


When I Heard at the Close of the Day

When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy night for me that follow'd,
And else when I carous'd, or when my plans were accomplish'd, still I was not happy,
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health, refresh'd, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in the morning light,
When I wander'd alone over the beach, and undressing bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food nourish'd me more, and the beautiful day pass'd well,
And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to me whispering to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast - and that night I was happ

Published in the Leaves of Grass. 1900.

Next: When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
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Literary Movement
19th Century

Happiness, Friendship, Life, Nature, Relationship

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